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Emigration to America: Passenger Lists


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== Published Passenger Lists:
A Review of German Immigrants
Germans to America, Volumes 1-9 (1850-1855) ==

Michael P. Palmer

Table of contents:

  • [gta-revu1.html Introduction]
  • [gta-revu2.html Customs Passenger Lists]
  • [gta-revu3.html Coverage]
  • Lacunae in Germans to America
  1. => Records of Miscellaneous Ports <=
  2. [gta-revu8.html Selection Criteria]
  3. [gta-revu5.html Records Destroyed]
  4. [gta-revu6.html Conclusion]

Lacunae in Germans to America, 1: Records of Miscellaneous Ports.

Perhaps the most apparent feature of Table 3 is the fact it lists only ships arriving at the five major ports of entry (Baltimore, Boston, New Orleans, New York, and Philadelphia): ships arriving at Galveston and other ports are omitted. In 1789, Congress established customs collection districts in more than 100 coastal, river, Great Lakes, and inland ports gta-revu7.html#note17 note 17. Passenger arrival records survive in some degree for approximately three-fourths of these ports, including Galveston, which as Table 2 indicates, was by 1850 a far more important port of entry for Germans than either Boston or Philadelphia. The National Archives have microfilmed these records gta-revu7.html#note18 note 18, but have not transferred the "originals" to the Balch Institute Center for Immigration Research. Although they are not deposited in the Balch Institute, and although both the forward and the introduction to each volume of GTA clearly state that this work contains only those records deposited in the Institute, the editors should nevertheless have included the records of these miscellaneous ports in GTA. Few researchers are aware that the records of the miscellaneous ports remain in the National Archives; neither the forward nor the introduction to GTA indicates that any other Customs Passenger Lists exist outside those held by the Institute; and its title and size, as well as the publicity surrounding it, imply that GTA is "complete". The number of German immigrants these records contain is not large: Table 2 indicates that between 1850 and 1855 a total of only 1,646 Germans entered the United States through all miscellaneous ports, excluding Galveston; of the 10 miscellaneous ports through which these 1,646 Germans entered the United States, records survive only for Edgartown, Massachusetts (68 immigrants), Mobile, Alabama (14 immigrants), and Passamaquoddy, Maine (four immigrants) gta-revu7.html#note19 note 19. Table 2 lists 11,823 Germans arriving at Galveston between 1850 and 1855, but most records for this port are believed to have been destroyed by a hurricane in 1907, and only the reports for this period that survive are those for the first, second, and fourth quarters of 1850, and the first and third quarters of 1852; these represent a total of 1,085 people gta-revu7.html#note20 note 20. To transcribe those surviving ship manifests that contain German names would consequently not have involved an excessive amount of work, and extending the coverage of GTA to include all ports of entry would certainly have justified the additional labor.

This article is copyright © 1990 Michael P. Palmer, but may be republished, in whole, or in part, with proper attribution.

An earlier version of this article was published in German Genealogical Society of America Bulletin, vol. 4, No. 3/4 (May/August 1990), 69, 71-90.

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